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ERIC Number: ED562881
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
Way Station or Launching Pad? Unpacking the Returns to Postsecondary Vocational Programs in Tennessee
Carruthers, Celeste K.; Sanford, Thomas
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Many higher education institutions award credentials below the associate's degree level, yet little is known about the pecuniary returns to sub-baccalaureate awards like diplomas (for the culmination of a program of study lasting one to two years) and certificates (for the successful completion of portions of those programs, often within one or two semesters). Carruthers and Sanford add to this body of work in two ways, using administrative data on college and labor outcomes for Tennessee students and workers over the years 2000-2012. First, the authors highlight the potential role of state-run technology centers in producing diplomas and certificates. They next compare the returns to sub-baccalaureate awards across technology centers and community colleges, characterizing immediate post-credential gains in employment and earnings as well as post-credential trends in the same. Postsecondary data are drawn from administrative files maintained by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The study results support the conventional wisdom that narrow vocational programs and sub-baccalaureate credentials promote job placement and immediate earnings recovery, but with the important caveat that the labor market returns to certificates and diplomas depreciate after attainment. Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee